Mark Deming

Biography by Mark Deming

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Critic, journalist, sometime musician, onetime actor, and full-time Midwesterner Mark Deming was born in Jackson, MI, during a brief moment in the John F. Kennedy administration that James Ellroy failed…
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Artist Biography by Mark Deming

Critic, journalist, sometime musician, onetime actor, and full-time Midwesterner Mark Deming was born in Jackson, MI, during a brief moment in the John F. Kennedy administration that James Ellroy failed to document in American Tabloid. In 1964, Mark's older brother Steve brought home a copy of "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris, and played it at full blast on the family stereo as young Mark was busy coloring in the next room. From this point on, Deming was a child obsessed, absorbing any arcane information he could uncover on the subject of pop music. He began foisting his opinions about music and film upon others via the printed page in high school. While attending Michigan State University (where he received a B.A. in Journalism, thereby proving that just about anyone can), he became entertainment editor of MSU's daily student paper The State News, where he once elicited a death threat for writing that Journey was "just not any fun." After graduating, Deming wrote for a number of publications, including the Lansing Capital Times, Detroit Metro Times, Chicago New City, American Garage, and Resonance, while supporting himself by assembling multi-part carbon forms, guarding the parking lot of a Taco Bell, and impersonating a Hostess Twinkie. In 1999, he became an editor and staff writer for All Media Guide, where he spreads his knowledge to the four corners of the globe through what some guy on TV calls "the power of the Internet."

As an actor, Deming mumbled his way into a supporting role in Robert Altman's 1978 film A Wedding, and ended his screen career with a larger but significantly more embarrassing appearance in GORP, which he described as "quite possibly the worst comedy ever made." In his mid-twenties, Deming's lingering adolescent obsessions led him to join the first of several rock bands, namely, the Kokobutts. The vocalist later lent what one critic called his "nasal Midwestern twang" to recordings by the Lime Giants, Mark Lansing and his Board of Water & Light, and the Clutters.

While Deming's objects of musical fascination tend to wax and wane, a so-called "desert island" list for him would doubtless include the following titles:

Peel Slowly and See The Velvet Underground, Peel Slowly and See
The Schramms, Dizzy Spell
Charles Brown, All My Life
Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Get Happy!!
The Stooges, Fun House
Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger
Professor Longhair, Rock 'n Roll Gumbo
The Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
The Replacements, Let It Be
Mission of Burma, Vs.
Toots & the Maytals, Funky Kingston
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
Television, Marquee Moon
The 13th Floor Elevators, Easter Everywhere
Richard & Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
The Who, Quadrophenia
Yo La Tengo, May I Sing With Me
Little Richard, 22 Greatest Hits
Uncle Tupelo, No Depression
Emmylou Harris, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
Muddy Waters, A.K.A. McKinley Morganfield
Steinski, Nothing to Fear: A Rough Mix
Big Star, Radio City
The Ramones, Rocket to Russia
Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions

Best of 2004 (in no order)
The Drive-By Truckers -- The Dirty South
Mission of Burma -- Onoffon
Wilco -- A Ghost Is Born
Reigning Sound -- Too Much Guitar!
Kasey Chamber -- Wayward Angel
The Breakup Society -- James at 35
Loretta Lynn -- Van Lear Rose
American Music Club -- Love Songs For Patriots
Mike Watt -- The Secondman's Middle Stand
Patterson Hood -- Killers and Stars
The Lazy Cowgirls -- I'm Going Out And Get Hurt Tonight
Local H -- Whatever Happened To P.J. Soles
BR549 -- Tangled In The Pines
Faces -- Five Guys Walk Into A Bar …
Crime -- San Francisco's Still Doomed

First Record Album Bought: Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson
First Concert: Dave Brubeck
Favorite Music Movie: Hard Core Logo
Favorite Music Book: England's Dreaming by Jon Savage
Favorite Songwriter: Paul Westerberg (when he's good)
Favorite Producer: Jim Diamond
Favorite Arranger: Jack Nitzsche
Favorite Record Label: Dangerhouse
Favorite Music Writer: Lester Bangs

Favorite Magazines: Mojo, Ugly Things, and Shock Cinema
Least Favorite Magazine: National Review
Favorite Guitarist: Richard Thompson
Least Favorite Guitarist: Eddie Van Halen (more for his influence than his actual playing)
Favorite Album Cover: The Velvet Underground and Nico (with peelable banana!)
Least Favorite Album Cover: Creed, Human Clay
Favorite Session Players: Earl Palmer, James Burton, James Jamerson
Least Favorite Record Label: Wind-Up
Favorite Teen Idol: Ricky Nelson (for teaching millions about the magic of rockabilly and James Burton)
Artist Who Broke Your Heart: Wayne Kramer
Artist You Will Always Believe In: Mike Watt
Singer Who Makes Your Skin Crawl: Chad Kroeger
Singer Who Makes You Swoon: Emmylou Harris
Favorite Sound: Rain
Album You Will Always Defend: The Cars
Album You Own That No One Else Does: The Schramms, 2000 Weiss Beers From Home
Classic Album You Own But Don't Like: Pink Floyd, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Artist You're Supposed to Like But Don't: Can
Song You Can't Stand by an Artist You Like: "Nazi Girlfriend" by Iggy Pop
Band That Should Break Up: U2
Band That Should Reform: The Fastbacks
Guilty Pleasure: Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells
Favorite Music DVD: MC5: A True Testimonial
Musical Era You'd Most Like to Visit: L.A. Punk Scene, 1976-79
Concert You Wish You'd Seen: The Velvet Underground, Sir Douglas Quintet and Flamin' Groovies, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA, 11/22/1968
Your Dream Concert Lineup: The Stooges, Radio Birdman, and Mission of Burma
Dream Collaboration: Richard Thompson and Tom Verlaine (Runner up: Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young)